This weekend I tried using the OLIO food sharing app for the first time. They had a big giveaway of free food in South East London and it was just too good to resist, so I put in a pickup request and hiked over to the venue.
As you probably already know, the UK still has a huge problem with food waste as well as many people who are going hungry, and I’m in favour of anything that helps this extra food to be used up instead.
My request was accepted, and I was given a time and address to pick up. My goodness, it was worth the walk! A food festival had been given a huge surplus of food items for its goody bags and simply hadn’t been able to give them all away. There were savoury biscuits, crisps, cooking sauces and packets of wasabi peas up for grabs, all of which had a pretty decent shelf life and a reasonably healthy nutritional profile, so it was a brilliant find.
Normally the app has an item or two to give away here and there, thanks to kind local people, but this was a fantastic example of a business helping out the local community.
The people like myself who turned up for the freebies were encouraged to take all we could carry as the surplus was very large. Under these circumstances you are politely requested to share your haul with people in your street and nearby neighbourhood via the app, which I’ll happily be doing in the next few days. I’m also going to run some of the biscuits over to my local food bank as they’ve recently put a request out for this sort of food and we honestly have more than we need so it’s nice to be able to make a contribution.
The people I met were really lovely, and I’m looking forward to meeting up with them again in the future. It’s an excellent project and the app is very easy to use. The more people who join, the better the network will become, so why not give it a go yourself?
Some more about OLIO
OLIO is a free app that connects neighbours with each other and with local shops and cafes so that surplus food can be shared, not thrown away. Users of the app simply snap a picture of their items and add them to OLIO. Neighbours then receive customised alerts and can request anything that takes their fancy. Pick-up takes place at the home, store, an OLIO Drop Box, or another agreed location, usually on the same day.
It started as a pilot scheme in North London before being rolled out to the whole of the UK, and it’s now available to use for free worldwide.
They’ve also recently added a non-food section to the app to enable users to share household items for which there’s currently no real marketplace, but which a neighbour would gladly take, such as unwanted toiletries, cosmetics, light bulbs, cleaning products, mugs etc.
In addition to regular users like myself, the app’s growth has been fuelled by its 8,000+ OLIO Ambassadors, volunteers who’ve reached out to offer to spread the word about OLIO in their local community. They’ve also launched a ‘Food Waste Heroes’ programme which matches OLIO volunteers with a local business such as a bakery, supermarket, deli or street food market, to collect any unsold food at the end of the day (often after charities have taken what they need) and re-distribute it to the local community via the app.
You can use the app to:
- Get free food for yourself, or your family
- Declutter your home and cupboards
- Make a positive contribution to your local community
- Meet and make friends with your neighbours
- Prevent food waste and/or hunger
To find out more about the OLIO food sharing app, and for details of how to download the iPhone and Anroid versions for free, visit their website.
Have you tried the OLIO food sharing app yet? Would you be interested in this, or any other initiative that prevents food waste?